Colin Smyth MSP
Colin Smyth MSP

The Scottish Government’s ‘timid’ economic plan outlined in last week’s budget statement is ‘not fit’ to protect the economy of the south of Scotland in the midst of the current pandemic, South Scotland MSP Colin Smyth has said.

Despite the Budget committing to ‘boost skills and employment opportunities for all’, core employability and skills spending has flatlined since 2019-20. This comes at a time of record unemployment across Scotland.

The Scottish Government’s tax plans will also see the most wealthy benefit disproportionately while several public sector workers such as teachers face a real terms pay freeze.

Colin Smyth said: “The SNP’s timid response to the economic crisis is like playing Russian roulette with the future of our economy.

“Without a proper programme of investment, business support and economic stimulus in the south of Scotland, through higher wages we risk years of economic uncertainty and hardship. We need quality jobs right across this area if we’re to keep our young people from leaving in droves.

“The decision to allow the wealthiest Scots to benefit most from the tax system and to maintain a real term pay freeze for thousands of public sector workers is not only deeply unfair but economically illiterate as it reduces the spending power of thousands of people.

“This is especially relevant at a time when thousands of people are struggling due to the ongoing Covid restrictions.

“Frankly this economic plan is not fit for purpose. I will continue to fight for the investment and economic stimulus that the south of Scotland badly needs – this is not a time for timidity, it is a time for action.”

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